Mobile Electronics Magazine

Switch to desktop

April Issue Retail News: Genetic Ambition - Auto Sound Celebrates 45 Years

Experimenting with new product lines and a willingness to change with the times brought family business Auto Sound to its 45-year anniversary. 

April 5, 2016, Mobile Electronics Magazine -- When Auto Sound opened in 1971 in Holbrook, Mass., the driving force behind it was Ron Needleman, Sr.’s own father. “He died when I was 12. I knew he wanted to own his own business and I was determined to fulfill his dream for him,” he said. “In 1971, I borrowed $2,000.00 from my bank, gave Automatic Radio my notice and started Auto Sound with a dozen radios I purchased from Audiovox. My wife, Connie, gave birth to our sixth child, Ron Jr., the same week I started the business. She and I ran the business out of our garage for the first year. I asked another employee at Automatic Radio, Bernie Feldman, to join me, and we became partners.”

It has now been 45 years, and much has changed, but the core of Auto Sound as a family business remains strong. Ambition appears to run in the family. “My sons Paul and Ron Jr. now own and run the business with help from Howard Honigbaum as president.” With 40 employees in all, Auto Sound has two main locations and one satellite location, allowing the business to strengthen connections with local dealerships, giving them a chance to grow more quickly.

Automotive Heritage

Ron Needleman, Jr. doesn’t recall what it was like having the business in the family home, but he does remember going to work with his father and eventually becoming a full-time employee in 1989 when he graduated from high school. “I am the youngest of four sons, and at one point all four were in the business. Now it’s just my brother and me,” he said. “I don’t even remember ever thinking about doing anything else. Since I was little, I always went to work with my father on Saturdays, and I always wanted to work at Auto Sound. I didn’t even go to college. I had to take a day off work to go to my own high school graduation. I was already working full-time. All my brothers, four of us, did the same thing.”

Before opening Auto Sound, Ron Needleman, Sr. went to college at Northeastern University for mechanical engineering, and was hired by Automatic Radio to design car radios. “In the early 70s, I was Chief Mechanical Engineer for Automatic Radio Manufacturing Co. in Melrose, Mass.,” he said. “I was responsible for their Custom Aftermarket Radio Program. I was sent to San Francisco to consult with one of our distributors. While there, I observed their daily operation and was amazed to find they sent installers on the road to car dealers. This was not done on the east coast to my knowledge. On the flight back, I started to plan how I could start a similar business in Mass.”

The business has changed a lot since the 70s, focusing first on car audio and now on other aspects of 12-volt. Though Auto Sound still does a fair amount of car audio, it is not their number one seller. “Through the 70s, it was mainly car audio, and in the 80s it transitioned into security and alarms,” Ron Needleman, Jr. said. “Car audio stayed strong through the 80s, but we were doing a lot of alarm systems; rear window defrost was a big thing; cruise controls, which we still do; power windows; power door locks. They were a lot bigger 15 years ago, and that took us from the car audio time into the remote start time.” 

Read the rest of the story in the April issue of Mobile Electronics, HERE

Copyright - Mobile Electronics Association 2020

Top Desktop version